MSP Jackie Baillie has joined forces with nurses to demand an end to the pay cap on NHS staff.

Public sector pay restraint has been in place since 2010 and previous research from the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre claims that the average nurse is worse off financially.

Ms Baillie joined nurses at a rally outside the Scottish Parliament recently to call on the SNP Government to drop the 1 per cent cap on pay.

In May, SNP MSPs voted with the Tories against a Labour motion to scrap the pay cap for NHS staff.

However, last week SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay appeared to signal that the SNP government plans to end its pay cap policy.

Mr Mackay’s statement came just a day after Nationalist MPs voted for a Labour motion in Westminster to scrap the pay cap across the UK.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has written to the First Minister to keep up the pressure.

Ms Baillie said: “Labour will keep the pressure on the SNP government over its pay cap U-turn.

Nicola Sturgeon voted against scrapping the pay cap for NHS staff in May but is now promising to lift it.

“During the General Election campaign Nicola Sturgeon found herself heckled by a nurse over NHS pay.

“Nurses in our health service have faced on average a real terms cut of £3,400 as a result of the pay cap.

“Labour shamed the SNP into backing our policy, with Nationalist MPs joining Labour MPs to argue for the cap to be scrapped across the UK in the Commons last week. That left Nicola Sturgeon’s previous opposition untenable.

“There are now a series of questions the First Minister must answer, including what pay rise staff will receive, and when.

“Public sector workers across Scotland need a pay rise and Labour will ensure it is delivered.”

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “We have always sought to offer a distinctive pay policy including being the first government to pay the real living wage and ensuring higher increases for those on lower salaries.

“We understand the impact rising inflation and social security cuts are having on working households, which is why we are clear that time is up for the 1 per cent pay cap.

“As we work towards the next Scottish budget we are engaging with trade unions across the public sector on a future pay policy that reflects rising living costs as well as the need for sustainable public finances.

“In the NHS in particular, we are working in partnership with stakeholders, including all the major NHS unions, to commission research on the effect of pay restraint on staff.

“This will help to inform our evidence to the independent NHS pay review body process.”